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Hemp Law and Water Rights Series – Record-Keeping Requirements for “Water Haulers”




As any farmer will readily tell you, water is critical to the success of any crop, and cannabis crops are no different. At the same time, understanding the laws that can apply to hemp growing operations is not an easy feat. In Oregon, absent an applicable exemption (such as irrigating crops from collected rainwater), growers can irrigate their crops by obtaining a water right or purchasing water from a water supplier. While many hemp growers do not hold water rights themselves, they must still comply with applicable regulations for “water haulers” if they purchase water from a water supplier and transport it to grow crops. This blog is the first in a series providing an overview of how water law intersects with hemp law in Oregon.


What is a Water Hauler and Why Does it Matter? 

In 2022, the Oregon legislature passed HB 4061, which created new requirements for water haulers in Oregon. One purpose of the law is to curb water use at unauthorized cannabis grow sites, and hemp producers may be impacted by the law in a couple of ways. First, growers must comply with the requirements if they are within the definition of a water hauler, and second, they must provide truthful answers to a water hauler or water supplier’s request for information needed for their record keeping. A “water-hauler” is someone who purchases water from a water supplier with the intent to deliver that water for irrigation or nursery purposes. The Oregon Water Resources Board has clarified that this definition includes agricultural producers and staff who purchase and haul their own water to grow plants and crops. Accordingly, many hemp producers are within the statutory definition of a water hauler and must comply with the applicable requirements. 


Record Keeping Requirements for Water Haulers. 

For each purchase of water, a water hauler must record:

  • the date the water was purchased; 

  • the location the water was purchased from;

  • the contact information of the person the water was delivered to;

  • a short description of how the water will be used, including the type of crop;

  • the quantity of water delivered

  • the location the water was delivered to

  • the date the water was delivered 


Water haulers must maintain these records for a minimum of one year following the purchase of water and must be able to present such records to the Oregon Water Resources Department or law enforcement upon request. Water haulers may be fined for violations of these record-keeping requirements.


Verification Requirement for Water Haulers. 

In addition to record-keeping, HB 4061 also requires water haulers to verify that cannabis growing operations (grow sites with more than four plants) are licensed with the OLCC, the ODA, or the OHA before delivering water. Delivery of water to an unlicensed growing operation may subject water haulers to civil or criminal penalties. 


Requirement to Provide Truthful Information to Record-keepers.

Water haulers must provide water suppliers with their contact information and the license plate number of the water-hauling vehicle upon their water purchase. As with the information that water haulers supply in their own records, they must also provide truthful information to water suppliers for their record keeping. Providing false information to water suppliers or entering false information into records may subject water haulers to civil or criminal penalties. Likewise, growers must provide truthful information to water haulers for their recordkeeping, and failure to do so may result in civil or criminal penalties. 


Have questions about complying with the water hauler record keeping and verification requirements, or wondering how these requirements affect you? Schedule a consultation with EARTH Law LLC to answer your questions and have qualified legal experts on your side!! You can contact us by email at info@earthlawllc.com or by telephone at 541-632-3946.


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